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Customers still trust social media and messaging apps to secure data, study

A recent study found the majority of customers appear to still trust their social media apps and messaging apps to secure their data.

In light of the recent Facebook scandal concerning the unauthorized sharing of user data, Rakuten Viber researchers surveyed 1,500 U.S. customers and found that despite the controversy the majority of consumers still trust their messaging and social apps to use their data in a honorable and transparent manner.

When asked if they expect that the intended recipient of a message would be the only person allowed to see the message, 63 percent of consumers said yes with women on average being more trusting as 67 percent of them saying yes.

Despite the apparent trust that their messages aren't being shared, the study found the majority of customers have a zero tolerance policy for backdoor data sharing as 55 percent said they would stop using a message or social app if they knew their messages could be read by others, including but not limited to, advertisers, political managers or government officials.

In the event their messages were shared, one in six respondents said they wouldn't be concerned however, 40 percent reported that they would be afraid of someone stealing their identity if their private messages were to go public.

The study found a third of customers would be most upset if their contact information were shared without their consent, however, when it came to sharing their list of friends or contacts on a social app, a less common practice yet potentially more damaging act, only 10 percent of respondents noted they would be upset.

Mayur Upadhyaya, managing director EMEA at Janrain said the study's findings show that trust and data integrity are becoming key values for consumers; privacy and data protection are now table stake.

"The Viber survey shows a growing trend towards consumers being increasingly concerned with their data protection and privacy,” Upadhyaya said.  “Consumer confidence has been so eroded over the last five years, since the PRISM scandal exposed by Edward Snowden, multiple data breaches (with Dixons Carphone Warehouse only last week), to data exploitation via Cambridge Analytica.”

Upadhyaya  said that recent research by his firm found that  consumer attitudes toward data privacy, showed that 73 percent of respondents thought that websites knew too much about them, and only 14 percent of respondents thought sites used their data in a responsible way.

Customers were most concerned about their contact details and their activity information being reordered without prior knowledge in the event that their messages were shared publicly. The study found slight differences between men and women's responses concerning the perceived impact of how leaked messages or online data could affect them.

 “Women are slightly less worried than men about the impact of their online activities going public, with only 8 percent of women worried they could lose their job, significant other or be accused of illegal activity,” the study said. “Meanwhile, 12 percent of men expressed the same concerns.”

Researchers said that even though some customers prioritized their concerns roughly a third of the respondents noted that they didn't know which type of personal data would be upsetting if it were shared without their permission. 

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